Day of memories, day of thanks

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Column by Jim Clark

Sometimes the calendar can be a little bit unfair with its listing of dates, holidays and remembrances. Take this week, for instance.

Thursday was Nov. 22. Because it was the fourth Thursday in November, it was Thanksgiving Day in the United States, the earliest date it can be. It was a day for giving thanks for all that we have in this great nation, whether you agree with everything that is going on or not.

Remember, in a lot of places you wouldn’t have the right to disagree publicly with your government leaders. The U.S. is one of those great places in the world where you can speak your mind, within reason, of course.

But Nov. 22 was also the anniversary of one of the tragedies of our lifetime. It has been 49 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas.

There are certain events, usually tragedies, that make us recall where we were at the moment they occurred. For those who are older, and the numbers are dwindling, the upcoming remembrance of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, is one of those dates. For many adults, that Nov. 22, 1963, date is another. And of course, for almost all adults now alive, Sept. 11, 2001 will live on for many, many years.

Of course, those of us who were of a reasonably young age in 1963 had studied the history of the presidents, and the 20-year jinx. We had heard of assassinations of a president.

But Kennedy? He was relatively young, full of energy, gave an impassioned inaugural address and was like a perpetual pep talk for the nation. No one even remotely expected that an assassin’s bullet would cut short his term in the White House.

There are certain aspects of history that I’ve followed very closely, and the Kennedy and 9/11 tragedies are the main ones. Trouble is, all the shows on television about these events are repeats, and I’ve seen all of them several times.

I go through the Internet looking to learn new things about these happenings, but it’s getting harder and harder.

This week, though, Thanksgiving trumps all the bad memories. It’s a time to look up to the heavens and be thankful for what we have. It’s also a time when many people unselfishly help others who may be a little down on their luck. So all of us here at the West Marion Messenger and South Marion Citizen wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving, and we know many of you will read this Wednesday or Thursday, although the paper is dated Friday. Hope you enjoyed the turkey, the subsequent nap, the football, and family and friends. And hopefully you didn’t forget the reason for the holiday.

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I mentioned the 20-year jinx, and there may be some who don’t know what that is. Bascially, presidents elected in years ending in “0” between 1840 and 1960 all died in office. That includes William Henry Harrison elected in 1840, Abraham Lincoln (1860), James A. Garfield (1880), William McKinley (1900), Warren G. Harding (1920), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1940) and John F. Kennedy (1960). Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, and survived an assassination attempt, breaking the string. George W. Bush was elected in 2000, and despite Al Qaida’s best efforts, survived Sept. 11.

The big question: Who will dare run in 2020?


Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen.